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Built old computer, is faster than newer one...?

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December 22, 2008 9:35:18 PM

Can anyone give me insight on why the computer I just built for my dad from scanvenged parts runs better than the newer (~2005) one I have?
I found an old MPC Clientpro from ~2002. I built it for my dad, because he still had a Compaq 5000 from the 90's.

The Clientpro has:
P4 2.66GHz non-HT
2GB RAM
Windows 2000 SP4
cheap $30 sound card from Best Buy
ATI Radeon 9800 256MB AGP 4x/8x graphics card
chipset, OS, drivers all updated

My Dell E510:
P4 630, 3GHz with HT
4GB RAM
Win XP Media Center
ATI X1800GTO 256MB PCI-E graphics card
integrated audio
everything up-to-date

I played the same games on both as sort of a benchmark. Third Wire's First Eagles, MS Flight Sim 2004, and IL2: 1946. In all games the Clientpro beat mine in frame rates, picture quality, and sometimes load time. Mine loaded First Eagles faster, but it was slower loading up 1946. FS2004 was about the same load time on each. My dad's monitor is far superior to mine,(we got him an HD ready flat panel) so that was a definite edge for picture quality.

My only guess is an older top-end graphics card and a cheap sound card beat newer mid-range cards?

I am building a new system for myself. I can't decide on a new mid-range graphics card, or an old top-end one. Building is easy, selecting the right parts is hard...



December 22, 2008 9:57:11 PM

It's Win2K baby.
December 22, 2008 10:24:25 PM

9800 is top of the range once upon a time, 1800 is just average. It is possible for 9800 to outperform.
windows makes a difference too. 2.6 to 3.0ghz isnt too much difference, HT is not that useful. 2gb to 4gb ram isnt too much difference either.
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December 22, 2008 10:29:08 PM

Probably Win2K yes; people don't always realize how, overtime, software gets bloated. Windows 2000 required a 133MHz CPU and XP 233 MHz, nearly twice as much (but still ridiculously far from what would be considered acceptable today). I always wondered if Microsoft would still stand by it's original 233MHz CPU requirement for XP :p .

You would probably also see a huge difference between XP with no SP/patches and a fully patched one.

December 23, 2008 12:48:01 AM

I didn't think about the OS. Win2K fully patched seems much faster than my XP.

I just got all my parts together for my new build. Since I can't afford cutting edge, I bought what I could afford. I have a Core 2 Duo E7300, nForce 750i SLI mobo from EGVA, and I just ordered two NVIDIA 9800GT 512MB cards I plan to chain together in SLI.

I wonder if W2K will work with that setup? I really want a 64-bit OS. I don't think I want to use the Server 2003 R2 we have, so I'll have to hunt down an XP Pro 64.

-correction- SLI not work with Win2K....oh well. We all lose some day.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 23, 2008 12:57:47 AM

xp pro 64 is good, I use it. I've found very few compatibility issues. However you should know its built on server 2003 kernel. As for games its pretty zippy, but for benchies the pcmark and 3dmark06 don't play nice.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 23, 2008 12:59:11 AM

I also had a radeon 9800 pro and it was awesome all the way up until oblivion. :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
December 23, 2008 1:28:43 AM

The OS plays a part, but you should verify the same render path was used for both computers. Some games (I have no idea if yours do or not) auto set the details based off your hardware. They might both look the same, but if some settings were changed, they can make one faster then the other.

Also, now might be a good time to make sure your computer is working the way it should be. The P4 is a hot chip, yours might be thermally throttling if there is a lot of dust in the heatsink. Maybe your ram isn't running at the speed its supposed to be. Run CPUz to make sure everything is as it should be.
December 23, 2008 1:38:45 AM

its the video card.
December 23, 2008 1:44:08 AM

zodiacfml said:
its the video card.


It is the video card... SM2 for the 9800 and SM3 for the X1800.

Better frame rates but the quality is not the same.
December 23, 2008 1:44:43 AM

Yeah, there is no way your comp should be outperformed by the older system.

The 9800 pro was a fantastic card, but it was designed to beat an FX5800 series nvidia card.

The x1800gto is a bit faster than a Nvidia 6800 Ultra, which was a freaking nice card at the time, absolute top end when it was release, and was the generation AFTER the fx5800 cards. There is no way in hell that comps GPU is beating yours. CPU wise you have the edge, same with memory.

That really only leaves the OS. I'm not entirely sure why you're running media center edition, you need to move to XP or win2k. Preferrably XP.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 23, 2008 2:05:37 AM

I am betting a clean 2000 is faster then a older XP install(less junk). Some software also does not react well to hyper-threading. Since the one card is SM 2.0 and the other is 3.0 the games should "look" better on your system, but may play faster on the SM 2.0 system.

kutark, Why run MCE? Well its XP pro at $50 less for one :p  I have no issues with MCE at all.
December 23, 2008 2:10:12 AM

nukemaster said:
I am betting a clean 2000 is faster then a older XP install(less junk). Some software also does not react well to hyper-threading. Since the one card is SM 2.0 and the other is 3.0 the games should "look" better on your system, but may play faster on the SM 2.0 system.

kutark, Why run MCE? Well its XP pro at $50 less for one :p  I have no issues with MCE at all.


Ok, just did some quick research and i was mistaken on MCE. Didn't realize it was basically XP pro with a few additional extensions.

My apologies.

I still highly HIGHLY doubt that its because the old system being on 2000. Yes, XP uses more resources, but we're talking 250megs of mem at startup vs 400 or so for XP. Even with only 2gb of ram no game he runs is going to touch using all the memory.
December 23, 2008 11:27:36 AM

kutark said:
I still highly HIGHLY doubt that its because the old system being on 2000. Yes, XP uses more resources, but we're talking 250megs of mem at startup vs 400 or so for XP. Even with only 2gb of ram no game he runs is going to touch using all the memory.

If it was only RAM, add more and the problem would be gone, but "resources" also include CPU time. The processes didn't just start using more memory in XP, it's also that there are more background processes that uses more CPU. The idle CPU load (and load playing games and/or starting applications) should be checked.

Temperature should also be checked as P4 would slow-down when overheated.
December 23, 2008 5:54:49 PM

I played all the games on my dad's at 1440x900 with game settings on high across the board. My old flat panel only likes 1280x1024. I tried his monitor and my system made better water, clouds, and shadows, but flying along at 100 feet and 200mph his was smoother. I guess each graphics card has it's strengths.
I noticed hyperthreading didn't make a difference in my games.
My P4 had always ran really hot, that could be an issue in gameplay. It has Dell's 'passive cooling system,' which means hardly any thermal paste and no fan.
My dad's P4 has a good chunk of aluminum on it, with good paste and a fan.
December 24, 2008 3:06:03 AM

Thats the only thing that makes sense, if that old comp hasnt been dust blasted in a long time, the CPU is probably throttling back heavily when you're in game.

Keep in mind his card is only a sm 2.0 card whereas yours is sm 3.0, that alone will make significant difference in framerates, but also accounts for why your image quality is better. Still, even with sm 3.0 your card should be running stupidly better framerates in the same games with the same resolution and quality settings.

Its just not possible assuming all hardware is working properly and is not faulty in any way, that a 9800 pro will even come close to touching an x1800gto.
December 24, 2008 3:15:53 AM

Zenthar said:
If it was only RAM, add more and the problem would be gone, but "resources" also include CPU time. The processes didn't just start using more memory in XP, it's also that there are more background processes that uses more CPU. The idle CPU load (and load playing games and/or starting applications) should be checked.

Temperature should also be checked as P4 would slow-down when overheated.


Windows XP is the same kernel as win2k, the only thing that would account for higher CPU utilization, etc is additional programs and services, and depending on what kind of desktop enhancements he may be running. All things considered we're talking peanuts here. There were numerous tests done with identical hardware, using the same games, same settings, etc. Simply switching from win2k to XP, and seeing no appreciable FPS difference in games from one to another. Basically it was within the margin of error.

If i had to guess, i would say his CPU is throttling back heavily. Fan bearings degrade over time, and the p4 with HT were known for being extremely hot running cpu's. I'd be willing to bet that the computer hasn't been dusted out in some time as well.
December 24, 2008 1:23:35 PM

I took the CPU heatsink off. It had hidden dust under it. Plus the thermal paste wasn't paste. It was hard as a rock and the heatsink doesn't seem to make good contact with the chip. I still have the Intel supplied heatsink and fan from when I bought a Pentium D chip, so I think I'll put that on. It will be a big improvement over what Dell supplied for cooling. Hopefully that will help.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 24, 2008 1:54:43 PM

Let us know if the performance goes up. I would like to know how this turns out.
December 26, 2008 5:31:39 PM

Ok. I dumped Dell's stock cooling setup, and put on a stock Intel cooler that came with a Pentium D 830 I never used. I also used good thermal goo.
Was: average idle was 40*C. Max temp recorded was 80*C.
Now: average idle was 35*C. Max temp was 68*C.
I suppose that was hot? The idle sounds okay to me. I've heard of P4's running hotter than 80*C though.
Gameplay was a better. Computer seems happier overall. I could probably drop those temps a little more with some serious cooling setups.

a b B Homebuilt system
December 26, 2008 11:00:09 PM

I think the P4 is supposed to throttle at temps higher then 72(?) If it was hitting 80c, it was throttling. Take new benchmarks and see if the performance is better.
December 27, 2008 11:37:35 AM

I was unable to find exact information on the throttling temp of your processor, but I found an app. you might want to check: throttlewatch.
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